April 3, 2013

NRA study: Train school employees to use guns

But critics say the report "misses the point" by not endorsing universal background checks for gun buyers.

The Associated Press

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National School Shield Task Force Director, former Arkansas Rep. Asa Hutchinson speaks with reporters after a news conference at National Press Club in Washington on Tuesday. The National School Shield program is a framework to arm security guards in any school system who want to be part of the program.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said administration officials were seeking middle ground and emphasized background checks, widely seen by gun control advocates as the most effective step available.

"We are working with lawmakers of both parties, and trying to achieve a compromise that can make this happen. Especially when it comes to the background checks," Carney told reporters.

The spokesman commented as a White House official revealed that the president plans a trip next week to Connecticut, scene of the horrific elementary school shootings that spurred the new push for gun control legislation. Obama wants to use the trip to build pressure on Congress to pass legislation.

Obama also plans to focus on firearms curbs in a trip Wednesday to Denver, not far from last summer's mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.

The 225-page study cost the NRA more than $1 million, Hutchinson said. The task force included several former top officials of federal law enforcement and security agencies, including the Secret Service and Homeland Security Department.

Hutchinson acknowledged that the study omitted an earlier NRA recommendation that retired police officers and other volunteers be armed to provide school safety. He said the idea encountered "great reluctance" from school superintendents.

Hutchinson said the NRA did not interfere with his task force's work. In a written statement, the NRA said the report "will go a long way to making America's schools safer."

Hutchinson also called "totally inadequate" a gun control measure working through the Connecticut legislature that includes a tightening of the state's assault weapons ban. The measure wouldn't prevent an attacker with a handgun or other firearms from attacking a school, he said.

Debbie Leidlein, chairwoman of the Newtown Board of Education, said having trained staff members carry weapons "can become a dangerous situation to have any individuals outside of those who have police training to be carrying weapons around children."

But the proposal won support from Mark Mattioli, whose 6-year-old son James was killed at Newtown and who attended the NRA news conference.

"These are recommendations for solutions, real solutions that will make our kids safer," Mattioli said.

 

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